Best Shopping in LA, Part 2

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Last year, I visited Los Angeles and wrote about some of my favorite consignment stores. I vowed to check out even more during my next trip. Last month, I got my chance after traveling back for a wedding, which I stretched into a 5-day sojourn in the sunshine.

I’ve been on a bit of a shopping diet lately, but I still scoped out the scene — from perfume to new clothes to thrift and consignment. Here are the stand-outs.

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Strange Invisible, a perfume shop in Abbot Kinney

Strange Invisible

When walking to a late lunch at Gjelina in Venice, I stopped dead in my tracks at the scent wafting from an open shop door. Inside was a jewel box of a perfumery called Strange Invisible. The contents of each bottle was like a tiny symphony made entirely of scent. While floral perfumes are par for the course, these are truly unique. A rose scent, for example, includes a hit of mineral-rich soil and water. Bonus points: the shop is a visual treat all on its own.

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Nasty Gal

Nasty Gal

While I’m not a member of Sophia Amoruso’s girl army (explanation here), I can respect the hustle it takes to grow an eBay store into a retail empire. When I visited the Santa Monica incarnation of Nasty Gal’s e-commerce site, I was struck by a few things:

  1. The spacious and modern design
  2. The insanely high prices for vintage T-shirts ($300 and up in some cases!)
  3. The ridiculously revealing outfits
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A flamingo bathing suit that leaves little to the imagination.

Let’s take this flamingo bathing suit. It could just be one of those things you’d only buy online after a bottle of wine — precisely because you can’t see how tiny and flimsy it is in real life. (Here’s how it looks on the model, if you want to see how deeply unrealistic this flamingo silhouette pasty really is.)

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Crossroads Trading Co.

No trip to LA is complete without a little thrifting. One of my favorites was Crossroads Trading Co. in Santa Monica, which has a healthy mix of affordable and designer brands. (The designer stuff is nestled on a rack toward the front.)

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One of my favorite items was the wool vintage Lanvin dress above. I loved the geometric print and the burnt orange, Howard Johnson-esque palette. Because I was on my shopping diet, I didn’t buy it — but trust me, I regret that now!

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Wasteland

Wasteland

Santa Monica is home to some fun and funky boutiques, and Wasteland is the epitome of my dream shopping scenario — affordable, edgy clothes and friendly staff. (I must have tried on 40 things, and no one batted an eye when I didn’t buy anything.)

The racks are organized like a library — by designer name (like Stella McCartney) and product type, (such as vests). While I loved the designer goodies, which were extremely reasonable in price, I most loved the section devoted to vintage, which included bomber jackets and Hawaiian-print blouses.

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Some of my favorites included a bodycon shift dress by Stella McCartney (above-middle) and a vintage bamboo-print blouse with a mandarin-collar (above-right).

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Decades

Decades

Of al the consignment stores in Southern California, Decades in Beverly Grove is arguably the most famous.

Of all the shops I visited, Decades has the best selection, hand-down. I drooled over almost everything. Not only do they have rare pieces in mint condition, they also have many new items.

Some of my favorites included a patchwork Vivienne Westwood jacket, a sequined Tom Ford dress and a furry embroidered boho vest.

Vivienne Westwood Jacket | Tom Ford sequined dress } Fur-trimmed vest
Vivienne Westwood Jacket | Tom Ford sequined dress | Fur-trimmed vest

The one caveat? The prices were absolutely outrageous — way, WAY higher that competitors. (Example: Decades is selling this old Dior bag for $650, while a similar one is just $295 on TheRealReal.) I totally understand you are paying a premium for the selection, but these prices are what you’d pay during a sale at a department store — hardly the aerobic high you get from a true discount experience.

Even so… look at this gorgeous Dior suit. With the brocade detailing and the corset ribbons, this looks like it’s straight out of Dita von Teese’s closet.

The detail on a Dior jacket at Decades.
The detail on a Dior jacket at Decades.

Your Moment of Zen

But my most amusing shopping moment was a little off the beaten path. Specifically, this shop on the Venic boardwalk, featuring the weirdest mannequins I’ve ever seen.

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Any other places I missed? Feel free to share more in the comments!